The Australian Total Diet Study (ATDS) estimates Australian consumers' dietary exposure to a range of chemicals.
In our 25th ATDS, we tested foods for 226 agricultural and veterinary chemicals and four metal contaminants; arsenic (including inorganic arsenic), cadmium, lead and mercury (including inorganic and methylmercury).
In total, 88 common food types including beverages were sampled over two seasons—autumn (May 2013) and summer (February 2014). A total of 1524 individual food samples were collected from all Australian states and territories and combined into 508 composite samples for analysis.
Agricultural and veterinary chemicals
We tested for 226 agricultural and veterinary chemicals.
The levels of agricultural and veterinary chemicals were generally very low. Estimated dietary exposures were below the relevant acceptable daily intakes (ADIs) for all but one agricultural and veterinary chemical.
Estimated dietary exposures to the organophosphorus insecticide prothiofos exceeded the ADI for some population groups. FSANZ notified the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA), the Australian government regulator of agricultural and veterinary chemicals. The APVMA subsequently worked with industry who voluntarily changed the way prothiofos is used to ensure that risks for Australian consumers are acceptably low.
FSANZ surveyed four metals: arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury. These are naturally present in the environment and widely distributed through erosion, water and air including as a result of mining, industrial and some food processing activities. This means that some level of dietary exposure is largely unavoidable.
The Food Standards Code contains maximum levels for metals in certain foods that are major contributors to dietary exposure to ensure levels are kept safe and as low as reasonably achievable.
For metal contaminants, all detections were below the maximum levels set in the Food Standards Code and estimated dietary exposure is consistent with international levels.
What is an ADI?
An acceptable daily intake (ADI) is the amount of a substance that can be consumed daily over the course of a lifetime without adverse health effects.
Dietary exposure: is the estimated amount of exposure to substances through the diet.
FSANZ reports any results which exceed regulatory limits to relevant enforcement authorities. We have also reported the outcomes of the prothiofos risk assessment to the APVMA, who have managed the issue in consultation with industry.